Quin Hoffman is a junior double majoring in Professional Writing and English. He is also Head News Director at MSU’s Impact 89FM radio station. Originally joining the radio team during the Fall Semester of 2013 with a focus on writing music reviews, Quin fell in love with the news aspect of radio. When asked what he enjoys most about Impact he replied, “When I first joined the news team I had a lot of ideas, but I was afraid to say them and get judged. I like the idea that we don’t shoot ideas down, but we hone them more.” It was this collaborative attitude that eventually earned Quin a spot at the helm of Impact’s news program, Exposure.
A news program in the same vein as This American Life, Exposure is student run. Topics covered by the program range from news, both local and global, to pieces on campus clubs and sports. Recently, Quin did a show about “uncommon” majors at MSU and interviewed Prof. Danielle DeVoss about the PW program.
In order to decide on a proper focus for a piece or article, Quin and his news team get together for an hour every week and brainstorm ideas. Quin explains that the only real screening Exposure has is whether a topic is pertinent to college students.
In order to ensure that broadcasted content meets Impact’s standards, Quin relies heavily on knowledge he’s gained from PW. “Professional Writing is a major that shapes writing skills, which are essential for the work world,” he says. Quin notes that these skills help him in scenarios ranging from working effectively in a group to running a proper interview. “PW helped me get this job in the sense that it bolstered my interview and résumé-building skills.”
Although not married to a specific career path, a possible occupation for Quin could be a position in informational media. It doesn’t matter if it’s working for a large-scale employer like NPR or writing articles for organizations like Pitchfork. Quin’s only true wish is to do what he wants in a comfortable workplace environment.
I got off the plane in another country for the first time ever in my life. I was alone. I needed to get through customs, get my luggage for the next seven weeks, and get myself from the Heathrow International Airport to Regent’s University in London. I didn’t have a working phone, and the person I intended to meet in the terminal was nowhere to be found. Awesome. Luckily I had prepared for my classmates and my pre-arranged rendezvous to fail without the ability to communicate upon landing, and had instructions of how to get myself through London and to the university.
I decided the easiest method, with the fewest steps involved, was to take the Underground subway system into London. I was only required to buy one ticket, switch trains once, and walk a few blocks from that Underground stop to the university, where I’d meet my trip advisors and fellow travelers for an orientation. When I tried to pay for my ticket the Londoner in the booth replied with a look of annoyance, “Those are Euros.” I thought to myself, yeah, I am in Europe. He then informed me that they used pounds for currency. I couldn’t believe I was already contributing to the stereotype of “stupid American”, having pre-ordered Euros instead of pounds. Luckily I was able to use my debit card, and with the help of some kind locals, was able to make my way to the college. Without realizing it, I was already practicing what would become my most valuable take-away from my Study Abroad experience; that is, learning how I best learn.
I had no idea when I decided to study abroad that I would be changing the course of my life forever. It is a very different world when you’re in another country, in a culture outside of your own. Surrounding myself with good people in interesting spaces was a key component my London trip advisor, Jeff Grabill, stressed in terms of finding myself in a professional setting ideal for me. Managing work and school in this diverse environment was challenging, but extremely beneficial in being able to learn from those who are different from me, and also recognizing commonalities between us. The currency is different, people speak differently (language and dialogue), dress differently, have different tendencies, and behave in a way that is different from those of my own culture. I made sure I split off from our (American) group as much as I could to really immerse myself in these other cultures. I made several friends throughout the duration of our trip, and was very flattered when natives would complement me by saying things like, “You’ve changed our minds about Americans, guess you’re not all bad.” Again, from being made to feel uncomfortable, making me more alert, I was and able to learn about people and pick up on things from which I could establish with them a connection.
I was made aware of some interesting cultural differences right away in both London and Paris. In Paris the language barrier is an obvious difference that resulted in some serious culture shock, even for me, who’s studied French since the 8th grade. However, when you’re there, in the moment, and that’s all the person you’re trying to communicate with speaks, you freeze up, and forget everything. By the end of the trip, however, I was speaking French more fluently than I have ever previously, and had even more confidence in my newfound ability to do well in strange places. In London everyone asked, “You alright?” They do this as a way of saying, “How are you?” But before I realized this I’d think to myself, I’m fine! Why does everyone keep asking me that?! Do I not look okay?! These differences seem so minor, but when trying to get along in a new setting, these are huge differences, and it’s important you’re aware and alert and are able to pick up on and assimilate yourself into such practices and ways to living.
I found it was really good for me to be out of my element. I now understand the importance of being challenged to facilitate learning. I am so habitual; I realized this when I was in the car for the first time after being back home, and remembered nothing of my drive. I was already running on autopilot; it was so eye opening. I realized how much more aware, alert, and attentive I am when I’m in a new, unfamiliar setting; where I have to pay attention to details and my surroundings to get by. It’s very easy to get lazy and slack off when you’re constantly following a set routine. I now know that it is beneficial for me to move around and mix things up to keep me interested in, and dedicated to, my work. This is valuable realization to come to for someone who will soon be making a career selection.
Another massive influence contributing to my discovery of how I best learn, was through an amazing opportunity to do research abroad for an organization I interned with called The Cube London. For the internship, I was to complete research and writing that was published in the organization’s white paper document and was intended to go out to members of the London community. I learned a great deal about using Theory of Mind, cognitive flexibility, the brain, and its processes from our neuroscientist supervisor at The Cube, Araceli. It was fascinating to learn about the brain and how its functions are carried out. It really improved my critical thinking skills to learn to think like they do, and produce work through understanding and harnessing these processes. I learned many valuable things from my supervisors at The Cube that I will use for the rest of my life, both personally and professionally.The research I did for The Cube was all about the relationship between people and spaces, and the resulting behavior of people in these spaces and places. Again, at this time I had not yet realized I was learning about my own experience, as I was having it. I loved this research, and it was through this process that I was able to pinpoint the type of work I was really interested in doing in my professional career. This internship allowed me to discover that I need to be doing innovative work that serves to better the community.
On this trip I was able to discover some more about how I best learn through museum layout and setup. My two favorite museums in London were the Churchill War Rooms and the Queen Victoria Revealed section of Kensington Palace. You really begin to understand and feel as if you’re getting to know the people you’re studying when you’re able to feel what they felt; this makes them feel more like real people than historical figures who died years before I was born. Through museum tours and the study of participatory memory, I was able to obtain a better understanding of people in a context unlike any I’d been in previously.
I am so grateful I was given such a brilliant opportunity to better myself through an experience like PW14 Study Abroad. I got to go to three different countries; saw countless museums, galleries, and other cool spaces, contributed to an awesome team through my internship at The Cube where I was able to better my critical thinking and problem solving skills; made a ton of friends – both foreign and Spartan, saw Black Sabbath in Hyde Park, ate awesome food, witnessed the most epic firework show I’ve ever seen at the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day, and learned a massive amount about myself and the world.
When I decided, in high school, that I wanted to become an English teacher, I assumed English was about grammar. Particularly, I assumed English was about the use of proper grammar in writing. Of course, I did not want to be an English teacher because I was a Grammar Rant; I wanted to become an English teacher because I wanted, I needed African Americans to “write better.”
I saw the struggles of my African American peers, and the lack of motivation they had for writing. I also heard how they spoke outside and sometimes inside the classroom. They spoke what I considered at that point to be “broken English” and African American “slang.” And then they had the nerve, the unmitigated gall to write in this Black slang. I do not mean to suggest I did not speak this slang, because I did: at home, at recess, with my friends and in church. But I never would dream of speaking or even writing that way in school. What was wrong with these kids? Didn’t they get it? Didn’t they understand that if you can’t speak and write English you can’t make it in the United States? How were they going to get jobs? How were they going to have their voices heard if they kept speaking this vile, putrid, inferior form of English or rather slang?
I was insulted. I was ashamed. I was hurt. After all, White people already think African American people are foulmouth, foulsmelling, ugly, inferior people who never seem to get “it” (whatever it is) right. Now we can’t even speak the language correctly after being here for over 400 years?
What was wrong with them? And in turn, what was wrong with me?
I was sure that if Black people could not speak well, write well, present themselves according to how White people designed this country, this system of education to work, then we would only reinforce negative views about us. My father always said, “Wonderful, no matter how many White friends you have, your face is always BLACK. And you will always have to do more to be considered equal.” And yet, there was something in High School I could not name. There was something that was wrong. Not with my Black friends but with me. No matter how hard I tried, my face was “always BLACK,” and that would be the measure of me…
Through my journey to this “goal” of helpin’ Black folk out I realized that I was sellin’ out. I realized that I was oppressin’ my own language. A language I had come to speak in secret (at home and in my community) and despise in public (the academy). I was, for all intents and purposes, a linguistic Aunt Jemima. However, through the course of my studies, and some guidance from, oddly enough, “The Man,” I came to realize:
(1) my language is valid, complex, and filled with rich nuances I never knew existed;
(2) My language IS a part of the academy and other forms of public discourse; and
(3) I can only free myself and help other Black folk free themselves through my own language.
As Smitherman notes in her interview with Alim, “language is our identity, it is what makes us who we are… our language cannot be severed from our being in the world” (44). This linguistic double consciousness – talking White, actin’ White, and writin’ White a right peculiar way of living for Black folk. We been fightin’ this double consciousness and this troublin of our soul fo’ a long time now. The struggle for language rights fall in line wit the struggle for Black civil rights. Like Al Sharpton said, “We ain’t where we wanna be and we ain’t where we oughta be, but thank God we ain’t where we was.” But who I was make me who I am. Who am I? I Black. I woman. I lesbian.
Mama ain’t raise no fool and daddy ain’t told no lie when they said, “Wonderful, yous Black and yous female. Your only path to success through education.” But fo so long I was tryin’ to fix sumethin’ in me. Somethin’ wrong went my tongue. It was wild and couldn’t be tamed like Gloria Anzadula was talkin bout (75). I ain’t even realize I was tryin’ to cut my own tongue out. How dumb am I? My soul speaks through my language.
If I said it befo’ I done said it a thousand times: If you cain’t take the BLACK off my face you sure cain’t take the BLACK off my tongue. My language is ME and I am my language. It lives. It moves. It breathes. To kill my language is to kill me. Period. Point blank. End of story.
But Maybe some folks want me to die. That’s what happens when you kill a language. You effectively kill its people. Maybe you think I’m sposed to forget:
“If our enemies can make us forget these words, and then make us forget that we have forgotten, they will have robbed us of our ability to honor and summon our ancestors, whom we so desperately need now more than ever” (Rickford and Rickford 228).
I was almost took. Almost hoodwinked. Almost bamboozled out of my language. But While I almost forgot, almost is still not quite. And now I remember, I remember that I use Black English or rather Spoken Soul because:
“it is a language in which I feel comfortable… because it came naturally; because it was authentic… touching some time within and capturing a vital core of experience that had to be expressed just so” (Rickford and Rickford 222).
I was stuck in this linguistic push-pull, in this borderland and contact zone that is my Black body, in this tongue that is peculiar to my mind and my whole way of being. I was stuck. I was once troubled in the space between, but I done unstuck myself; done unstuck my language.
The journal, Research in the Teaching of English (RTE), is making a big impact in the field of English education and related fields. RTE is the flagship research journal of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in the United States. It is a broad-based, multidisciplinary journal composed of original research articles and short scholarly essays on a wide range of topics significant to those concerned with the teaching and learning of languages and literacies around the world, both in and beyond schools and universities.
Currently housed at Michigan State University, the editorial team includes co-editors MSU faculty Ellen Cushman (department of Rhetoric, Writing, and American Cultures) and Mary M. Juzwik (department of Teacher Education) and assistant editors Amanda Smith, a graduate student in Teacher education who works on production; Kati Macaluso, a graduate student in Teacher Education who handles manuscript intake and reviewer assignments; and Esther Milu, a graduate student in the department of Rhetoric, Writing and American Cultures who handles special projects and daily journal tasks.
In the past year, the journal has made a significant impact in the following ways:
RTE received more than three times as many submissions this calendar year from the previous calendar year (up from 65 as reported by the former editorial team to 202 submissions).
The circulation rate for RTE as of the end of June 2014 was 2,517, up 5.5% from 2,385 at the end of June 2013.
There has been a three-fold increase in request for reprints of RTE articles. NCTE had projected to make $400 but made over $1,200 in permissions fees. NCTE also sold more than its projected number of back issues.
In the past fiscal year, the journal increased its projected annual income by 40%.
The RTE team works vigorously to increase the impact factor of the journal in numerous ways. The team has been recruiting manuscripts at national and international conferences, including the annual meetings like:
National Council for Teachers of English
Literacy Research Association
American Educational Research Association
Conference on College Composition and Communication
The biennial meeting of the International Association for the Improvement of Mother Tongue Education in Paris
Writing Research Across Borders Conference
To support the vision of increasing the global presence of the journal, RTE has begun to publish abstracts translations in the following languages:Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. The team is currently developing a tracking system to assess the impact of the translations on the journal beginning with the pilot issue, 49.1 (August 2014).
Building Capacity for Authors and Reviewers
RTE editors not only cultivates and publishes impactful research, but also builds the scholarly capacity of authors and reviewers along the way. The journal has devoted portions of its editorial introductions to these efforts, including in Volume 48, issue 2, for example, a list of Ten Tips for Authors. In addition, the editorial team has designed a “How to Review Tutorial”, which is now published on the RTE homepage. This “How to Review” tutorial will serve as the foundation for a writing and reviewing for publication workshop being piloted at the MSU Literacy Colloquy on November 18, 2014.
RTE/Research Assembly Panel at 2014 NCTE Conference
This year, during the NCTE annual conference, RTE co-editors Mary Juzwik and Ellen Cushman will host a featured research session titled “A Dialogue about Literacy Educational Practice and Research in the Teaching of English(es): Emerging Directions and Possibilities.” The roundtable will feature scholars and literacy educators leading discussions about exciting areas of work related to English language arts teaching and learning in pre-K-12 schools, post-secondary colleges and universities, and community settings. Participants will leave the session with a broad sense of where the scholarly field of language and literacy education is now and where it might be going. If you are planning to attend NCTE this year, you are encouraged to attend. To learn more about the impactful work RTE is doing, please visit their website at http://www.ncte.org/journals/rte.